David Rado emails:
although the accuracy sections of our complaint were considered under section 2.2 of the broadcasting code, that was not the section that we had complained under. We complained primarily under section 5.7, but Ofcom decided section 5.7 only related to news programmes. We don’t think the code makes it at all clear that it the requirement for accuracy only applies to news programmes (which is why we complained under that section) – and if it’s really true that science documentaries are not expected to be accurate, that is a serious indictment of the broadcasting code.
Hmmm, let’s look at the code:
(Rules 5.5 to 5.12 apply to television programme services, teletext services, national radio and national digital sound programme services.)
Which would seem to include the Swindle.
5.5 Due impartiality on matters of political or industrial controversy and matters relating to current public policy must be preserved on the part of any person providing a service (listed above). This may be achieved within a programme or over a series of programmes taken as a whole.
Ofcom said this section applied to the Swindle.
5.7 Views and facts must not be misrepresented. Views must also be presented with due weight over appropriate timeframes.
Ofcom decided this didn’t.
I dunno, the code seems fine to be, I think the problem is with Ofcom.
As Michael Le Page at New Scientist writes, the ruling means:
Don’t believe anything you see in a TV documentary made in the UK.
Documentary makers here have no obligation to be accurate, though factual programmes should present a wide range of views.
Look on the bright side, this inaccurate Channel 4 news item:
But Ofcom found that despite concerns over the presentation and omission of various facts and views, the audience watching the Channel 4 programme was not “materially misled”.
is a breach of the code. Well, unless Ofcom reinterprets it again.
Other reactions to the decision: from many of the scientists involved with the complaint, from James Annan, and from Steven McIntyre, who puts the Channel 4 spinners to shame.
McIntyre warns his readers against reading the BBC news stories, lest they find out the Channel 4 was found to have made multiple breaches of the broadcast code. McIntyre falsely claims that a misleading temperature graphic was corrected when it was merely replaced with one that was almost as misleading. McIntyre is delighted that Ofcom evaded ruling on accuracy and claims that it was a “complete stuffing of the 37 professors”. McIntyre doesn’t dispute the accuracy of the complaint. His earlier attempt to do this blew up in his face.